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Prime Minister Prayut rejects proposal to seal off 5 provinces

Prime Minister Prayt Chan-o-cha on Tuesday rejected a proposal to completely seal off five provinces to stop the spread of Covid-19 disease, amid a surge in new cases.

Gen Prayut said before the weekly cabinet meeting that the government had no plan to lock down Samut Sakhon and four eastern provinces, Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam also rejected the proposal, made public by Deputy Public Health Minister Satit Pitutecha on his Facebook page, to block the transmission of the novel coronavirus, including a travel ban.

Mr Wissanu said authorities in the five provinces were already applying strict measures to control the outbreak, but residents in the five provinces could still move around. 

Samut Sakhon, Chon Buri, Rayong and Chanthaburi were targeted by the deputy public health minister. They are declared red zones, each with more than 50 patients.

Trat is zoned yellow, with fewer than 50 cases, but authorities there are also enforcing  stringent health measures.

The five provinces have set up roadside checkpoints, screening the health of travelers entering their areas. Chon Buri alone has 47 checkpoints to screen motorists arriving in the province and in Pattaya.

The country logged the highest number of new cases on Monday with 745 confirmed infections, most of them migrant workers in Samut Sakhon.

Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said the government strongly encouraged people to limit all travel, to keep the virus at bay.

The strongest measures will be applied in the five provinces, as they were hit the hardest by the surge of the disease, he added.

“People in the five provinces will face greater inconvenience due to the measures being applied,” the spokesman said. He cited more checkpoints than other provinces as an example.

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